Last Friday at the warehouse formerly known as Worksound (820 SE Alder), members of Portland's art community came together for Not So Quiet, "a curated evening of dance, music, literary readings, conversation, and hand crafted cocktails." The event marked the start of fundraising efforts for the recently-announced NOW Portland Triennale, a once-every-three-years art showcase that, according to official PR, "[aims] to bring a selection of international curators and artists to Portland for a series of exhibitions in the summer of 2015."
At the helm of the team organizing NOW is former Worksound director and local educator Modou Dieng— working alongside Matty Byloos, Jane Kate Wood, Nina Reynolds, Rebecca Steele, and Jason DoizÉ— and if Friday night was evidence of what's to come, the team has a curatorial eye worth getting excited about: the evening featured paintings by Portland's Jason Traeger and video by San Francisco's Anne Colvin, readings by local poets Barry Sanders and Matthew Dickman, contemporary dance from San Francisco's Renee Rhodes, and live music by local ambient-noise gurus, Golden Retriever.
Though, as strong as Friday's lineup was, the point of NOW isn't so much to feature regional talent as it is to, in the words of NOW "committee collective" member Jane Kate Wood, "bring the rich culture of the Pacific Northwest in conversation with the international creative and intellectual community."
While local art events like PICA's Time-Based Art festival and Disjecta's Portland Biennial have broken ground in this area— TBA collects local and international artists under a single, curatorial banner, and the Portland Biennial highlights local art in a format worthy of outside attention— neither focus primarily on bringing the international art community to Portland. Which is to say, there's room to grow in terms of how Portland interfaces with the larger art world, and NOW is designed to do just that.
But what are NOW's organizers doing to make The City That Could's international art dreams come true?
The quick answer: more fundraisers, public awareness campaigns, and rigorous planning. In an email, Wood outlines NOW's plans for 2013: "public salons will occur every eight weeks and combine performance, exhibitions, and literary readings by artists from around the country." The goal of these salons, says Wood, is to "initiate a fundraising and public awareness campaign that will ultimately feed in to a curatorial symposium dedicated to new exhibition practices that will be held over a few days in Portland during September/October 2013."
Wood says the aforementioned September-October symposium "will bring international curators and critics to Portland for a series of engagements around the idea of building a Triennale, and the philosophical and theoretical considerations of this type of platform."
The emphasis on making plans in the company of the very community NOW hopes to bring to town bodes well for the future of the event, but only time will tell if a big, fancy international triennial is in the cards for Portland.
For now, we'll keep you posted as things develop.